Substantive and Procedural Law

Substantive Law

In common usage, substantive law encapsulates rules that establish rights and obligations while procedural law envisages the rules that prescribe the process of administrating substantive law (Mauet, 2013).

Courts apply the substantive law when dealing with the legal relationship between private citizens or between the citizens and the state. Substantive law is mainly statutory in nature, as it exists in an embodiment within various statutes. As such, the substantive law only concerns itself with what individuals can or cannot do when interacting with each other or the state.

Procedural Law

The procedural law prescribes the processes that govern the administration of substantive law. It establishesrules of procedure that courts and other administrative proceedings follow to arrive at an authoritative determination. The procedural law includes the pre-trial and trial procedures, rules relating to the process of composing the jury and many others. Simply put, procedural law is concerned with process regulation.

While the substantive law is independent, procedural law is dependent on other complementing rules. The independence of substantive law means that it is solely applicable in any matter without necessarily calling into question the law of procedure. In this regard, substantive law is capable of establishing solutions to legal problems.

Procedural law on the hand offers the roadmap on how to achieve the ends of justice using the substantive laws. Therefore, the procedural law cannot exist in isolation from the substantive law. The substantive law enables the court, prosecution, defense and any other interested party to a case in identifying the applicable law to a given issue set fordetermination by the Court.

With the aid of the law of procedure, the parties as well the court are properly informed and advised about the coordination of the case from one stage to another.

Influence of Juror Perceptions on Attorneys

Mauet (2013) argues that various factors affect the decision of the jury in any given matter. Researchers of law and psychology, through their countless publications, demonstrate that a multiplicity of factors can influence jury decision. These include juror biases, group processes, personal attributes of the juror, demeanor and characteristics of the defendant, behavior of the victim, and juror’s perceptions concerning the lawyers’ performance during evidence presentation (Mauet, 2013). These factors significantly influence the jury’s verdict.

Attorney’s performance entails various activities, which include how they submit their opening and closing statements and how well they present evidence before the jury. Opinions of the jury about the attorney include competence, sincerity, level of preparedness and courtroom demeanor.

If a jury develops a positive perception about the lawyer’s way of adducing evidence and level of readiness, he/she is likely to get a favorable outcome from such it. It is against this background that Mauet (2013) suggests that a lawyer, whether on the defense or prosecution side, would wish to persuade the jury to believe in his/her version of reality.

Every trial is a matter of recreation of reality. The question is always about which side of reality the juror will acknowledge. The answer lies on how well either the prosecution or defense persuades the jury during the trial. Therefore, Mauet (2013) proposes that as a lawyer, one needs to ensure that they create a positive impression to the jury about their ability.

Making compelling presentations while observing court’s rules of conduct and procedures can assist an advocate to achieve maximum performance (Mauet, 2013). Further, the attorney should employ a persuasive tone throughout the trial as well as in his opening and closing statements.

Statutory Grounds for Nullifying Prospective Jurors

The selection of jurors is a critical process in pursuit of criminal justice. The competence and qualification of members of the panel are the most important aspects in determining who sits on the jury in any particular matter. Statute law regulates the selection process through judicial practices and rules of the court. The process involves, among other things, dismissing a juror or more from sitting on the jury due to cause challenges.

Mauet (2013) enumerates two systems that stipulate procedure and circumstances under which juror nullification can take place. The first cause problem is in the strike system where the judge calls upon defense counsels to ascertain that every member of the jury is impartial and able to deliver a fair verdict.

This system is of particular importance because, in some cases, a member of the panel of judges may have a predetermined opinion about the results of a case. It remedies the mischief whereby a juror has some close relationship with either party in the trial, a case that may bar him/her from making a fair and impartial determination of the question.

In other words, any material bias from any member of the jury may render incompetent such a juror to sit and decide a particular case, hence leading to nullification.

The second instance is under the panel system whereby all jurors seated in the jury box take questions that assist both counsels and the court in determining juror credibility. In most cases, judges authorize juror questioning before they come to the jury box because dismissing of jurors in the presence of litigants can be a traumatic exercise.

Irresistible Impulse as Rare Version of the Defense of Insanity

The movie, Anatomy of a Murder, by Annalisa Daniel (2015) is drawn from a novel based on a real story involving a murder case. Robert Traver, which is the pen name for John Jackson, a former Michigan Supreme Court Justice, wrote its script as originally presented in the story.

The movie shows melodrama and several questions surrounding the strategies during trials, legal ethics, nature, and purpose of the regime of the adversarial justice system. It is about the trial of a defendant accused of a cold blood murder of his victim. The accused pleads guilty to the charges but attempts to justify his actions by stating, through his lawyer, that the deceased raped his wife provoking him to commit the murder.

As a defense to the charges, he claims that he could not correctly recollect the incident, therefore, arguingirresistible impulse in the case. At that time, irresistible impulse as a form of defense was in fact very novel, and it had not yet gained traction.

Only a single isolated case had had the Court approval. Even experts on insanity, as a defense, were not aware of its previous approval by the court. The question of law that the defense raised during the trial was whether the defendant had satisfied the ‘irresistible impulse’ test.

Put differently; the defense sought to substitute the general defense of insanity.

Under the defense of insanity, the test is whether at the material time (1) the defendant never knew what he was doing, or (2) if he did, he never knew that it was wrong.

For irresistible impulse, the test is whether the defendant could not control his actions due to mental impairment, but knew that the action was wrong. Since the accused had pleaded guilty to the charges, he opted to rely on the argument that yes, he was aware that what he was doing was wrong but nonetheless had lost control of himself due to mental impairment.

The prosecution rebutted the defense argument by arguing that the defendant was ineligible for the defense of insanity. It went ahead to state that even if the defense relied upon the rule of insanity, it had not sufficiently proved that the accused had lost control due to mental impairment. Interestingly, the court entered a judgment for the defendant earning him an acquittal.

The Right to Sue

In law, the right to institute legal proceedings is sheathed as locus standi, meaning the right to stand before a court of law and address it. The question that must be determined before the court can proceed in hearing any application is whether the person suing has the right in law to sue or apply for a hearing before the tribunal of facts.

Usually, the right to sue or to be heard by a court vary depending on a given set of factors or situations.

One of such factors includes the jurisdiction of the court in which the party is seeking an audience. A person has a right to be heard in a court of law in two different situations. One of such a situation is where an individual relies on their private rights and interests in seeking to address the court.

The other is where the court grants leave on its evaluation of the potential public interest about the subject matter. Therefore, a person, group of individuals or an organization can apply to the court to grant leave to address it on a particular question or set of issues where a matter of great public interest is involved.

However, courts will not entertain vexatious litigants or busybodies whose prime intention is to waste the courts’ time with frivolous suits. Therefore, one must discharge the legal burden of proving that they have satisfied the requirements to grant an audience as was the case in the US Supreme Court decision in Lujan V. Defenders of Wildlife (1992).

In this case, the court pronounced that the defendants lacked the legal standing to bring the matter to the court for determination. The court’s basis for the ruling was that the accused had not satisfied the constitutional requirement of ‘injury in fact’ as provided for under the Endangered Species Act.

The defenders had sought audience from the court regarding the US government’s funding of projects in Aswan and Mahaweli in Egypt and Sri Lanka respectively. They claimed that such activities threatened the endangered species.

Leave a Comment